Google recently killed its only in-house Stadia game development studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment (SG&E), after building up the studio for only two years. In an industry where even established game studios take several years to ship a product, this was a breathtakingly fast pace for building and tearing down a game development studio. Kotaku got in touch with some of the 150+ staffers who were dismissed from Google’s studio, and they paint a picture of a dysfunctional work environment plagued by dishonest communication and mismanagement.
According to the report, developers at the studio were “shocked” by the sudden shutdown, since, only a week earlier, Stadia’s leading executive, game industry veteran Phil Harrison, told the group “[SG&E] has made great progress building a diverse and talented team and establishing a strong lineup of Stadia exclusive games.” The one-week flip-flop was “part of an apparent pattern of Stadia leadership not being honest and upfront with the company’s developers,” according to Kotaku, adding that many developers “upended their lives and careers to join the team.”
The report says Stadia’s developers found out about the studio closure at “almost the same time as everyone else.” Stadia’s developers had to wait three days before Harrison was available for a Q&A conference call, which the report describes as “contentious.” The most chilling line in the report details Harrison’s response to a question asking why the Studio was “making great progress” one week and then fired the next: “When asked what changed from the week prior, Harrison admitted nothing had and told those on the call, ‘We knew.'”
Nobody should be shocked when Google cancels anything out of the blue.